Seeing The Big Picture On The Stadium Issue

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 2, 2011 – 12:40 pm

The stadium issue in Minnesota remains at the front of the news cycle, and for good reason. State leadership has struggled to come to resolution and all the while the Vikings Metrodome lease rapidly approaches expiration. In fact, the Vikings lease lasts only 4 more games.

With all the developments and layers to this issue, it’s natural for the casual Vikings fan to feel overwhelmed and under-informed. Heck, sometimes I feel that way, and I’m working inside the walls of Winter Park.

But in Wednesday’s edition of the Star Tribune, columnist Jim Souhan, with the help of local entrepreneur and author Harvey Mackay, who helped earn approval for the bargain and state asset that is the Metrodome, sheds some light on what ultimately this issue means for the state of Minnesota and its residents.

Early in his piece, Souhan writes that he and Mackay agreed on the following:

Big-time sports offer immense tangible and intangible benefits; the Vikings are the most popular entity in the state; losing them would be an embarrassment to our cities and state; the price of building a stadium only goes up every year; building a stadium creates jobs and stimulates at least a portion of the economy; if we lost the team we eventually would pay three-fold to replace it.

After reading that part of the column, I couldn’t help but continue. Click here to read Souhan’s excellent piece; it’s definitely worth the read. Here are a few important take-aways…

Exposure for the state
If you’re a resident of Minnesota, you might not think of it this way, but do you realize how much publicity the State of Minnesota receives each time the Vikings are televised? If you’re a football fan from another state tuning into the Vikings game, you are hit repeatedly with mentions and references to the state.

“Every time the Vikings are on TV, the numbers are enormous,” Mackay told Souhan. “The last time I checked, Minnesota was mentioned 237 times on a three-hour broadcast. Last week I called up an ad guy and, holy cow, he told me that upwards of 40 percent of the entire state was reached by the Vikings game. That’s pretty awesome.

“You’ve got two million USA Todays reporting on the Vikings, plus the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, all the national publications. There are not enough zeros to measure the number of people made aware of Minnesota through the Vikings.”

Making Minnesota More Appealing
We live in a great state here in Minnesota. But we shouldn’t want to keep it all to ourselves. We want more businesses to come here because it will help the local economy. We want more tourists to travel here for the same reason. We want youngsters to attend our schools, businesses to relocate here, existing businesses to expand, etc. Having a professional football team in the state makes it easier to accomplish those tasks.

“We’re competing with adjacent states for jobs,” Mackay said. “All these other states want me to take my factory and move it, to find a cheaper place, to pay lower taxes. I think the legislators know what kind of market we’re in. It’s dog-eat-dog and rat-eat-rat.

“Having major league sports separates us from many other places. And here, we’re talking about an owner who’s willing to invest $400 million in a stadium that is an asset for our state.”

Souhan says
Mackay wasn’t alone in painting a great portrait of the big picture. Souhan was passing along a similar message. He concluded his piece with the following, which was stated simply and logically:

“What everyone should remember as the debate turns risky and complicated is that the costs of building a stadium will be far less than the costs of losing the team, and far less than the costs of replacing the team,” Souhan wrote. “This isn’t a ‘sports” issue. This is a competitive market and quality-of-life issue.”

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